Wednesday, 22 April 2015

S: It's the bard, innit?

I have chosen William Shakesepeare, the Bard of Avon and top notch playwright and poet, as my letter S reason to be cheerful, but I also offer him as a reason to be in awe of what another human being has done.

Shakespeare lived for just over half a century and by the time he died he'd written so many extraordinary plays that even if he'd only come up with one or two of them we would still probably be talking of him with some reverence.

I realise I might be making some cultural assumptions here that Shakespeare means as much to people around the world as he does to me. I am intensely proud that I come from the country of Shakespeare's birth, but, let's be honest, that's for no good reason. I didn't write the plays, that was done four centuries ago, and I'm not even that knowledgeable about his work. Even so, Shakespeare...what a guy.

A porcelain figure of Shakespeare which I
suspect doesn't look much like him.
Did Shakespeare just get a lucky break that meant his plays would continue to be performed down the centuries or did he somehow produce work that, even in this digital age, manages to make us think about something other than ourselves.

No guesses as to which side of the argument I go for, but even Shakespeare cynics must be a bit impressed that people still find enough in his work to make it worthwhile to stage his plays in so many weird and wonderful ways. And I haven't even mentioned the sonnets yet.

While there may be some debate over whether Shakespeare wrote everything that was attributed to him (I think he did, it's just easier that way) there is no doubt that our debt to the slightly mysterious man called William Shakespeare is one we are likely to keep on paying for centuries to come.

Shakespeare has inspired all sorts of music and songs down the years, but I like To Be Or Not To Be by BA Robertson which with some slightly wonky rhyming manages to pack in lots of references.

  • Question: Shakespeare: perfect playwright or balding bore? What do you think? Tell me in the comments section below.

* Picture of Derby Porcelian figure of Shakespear from Walters Art Museum [Public domain, CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons


  1. I love how Shakespeare was both a writer of his time and a writer for all time. While he very much wrote about people and concerns of his time, his work also transcends time, able to be adapted and appreciated across so many cultures and eras. In particular, I love how Macbeth and King Lear became stories of feudal Japan in Akira Kurosawa's Throne of Blood and Ran, respectively. That's not a setting the average person would associate with Shakespeare at all, and yet those stories so perfectly were adapted to that milieu.

  2. I don't profess to be very knowledgeable about Shakespeare. Put off him a bit at school I think. But as I have dipped into things over the many years since school I enjoy his stuff in small doses. And one only has to recognise many of his quotes to realise his influence. Yes, much respect! A propos of nothing really but my first father-in-law always called him Bill Shakespoke which I'm still inclined to do myself to this day. In conclusion we are about to set off for Skopelos and so next comment may (kindly) be face to face!

  3. I remember detesting Shakespeare when I was in school...mainly because I didn't understand it and more than likely because I just wasn't into doing what I was supposed to be doing: studying! But after seeing a few plays and realizing how timeless his work is, I have a serious respect for him. I'd love to read more about the man and his life; that's on my ToDo List...
    Michele at Angels Bark

  4. Hi Mark - I am distinctly unknowledgeable about Shakespeare .. but keep hearing lots about him and how he's performed around the world .. including by ladies in Afghanistan .. not desperately popular that - but gave actresses an opportunity - clandestinely, yet the Beeb were involved ... as others wishing to support them. I'd love to do a course around him sometime ... cheers Hilary


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